Photo courtesy Thom Filicia Inc.
Designer Thom Filicia, with a phone pressed against his ear for an East Coast interview, was in the throes of finishing a 300-square-foot room at HD Buttercup in Los Angeles. His space was to open that Thursday evening along with others by Celerie Kemble, Suzanne Kasler and Jeffrey Alan Marks, and it was already 1:30 p.m. "Here's the receipt for that," he told one assistant, and then asked about another assistant who had passed out and was taken to the hospital. (The assistant turned out to be A-OK.)
Filicia was flying home the next day after two weeks on the West Coast, visiting stores and introducing his new lighting line produced by Safavieh. He also shared details about his new 2,000-square-foot showroom inside the New York Design Center called Sedgwick & Brattle, which combines his pieces with one-of-a-kind furniture and art from around the world.
As he shifted things up and down and around in his space at HD Buttercup, Filicia answered more than a few questions and said he was looking forward to his Richmond visit. The last time he was in town, he was here to attend the wedding of Domino magazine creative director Sara Ruffin Costello at her family's home, Evelynton, which was designed by Duncan Lee.
R•Home: We interviewed you in May 2010 when your first collection of furniture from Vanguard debuted and Williams & Sherrill picked it up here in Richmond. Now there's fabric, rugs, lights, throw pillows and art. What the heck is next?
Thom Filicia: There will be wallcoverings and a full line of bedding. It will take a good 12 months for all that to happen.
R•Home: I've read that you like to entertain, especially on weekends at your Finger Lakes house. Do you see yourself venturing into that zone, either with product or a new book?
Filicia : Our concept is very much about lifestyle … anything that supports living well and entertaining well. For instance, our furniture can warm up a loft or cool down a Georgian classic. That's really where we see ourselves in the design space.
R•Home: The Queer Eye for the Straight Guy reunion show was a huge hit this fall [Filicia was one of the five stars of the Bravo show from 2003 to 2007]. What was your favorite part or surprise of the night?
Filicia : It had to be when I found out that [fellow star] Jai [Rodriguez] and I had made out in a van. [Laughing] I think of myself as a pretty together drinker!
R•Home: The small-screen loves you [Filicia also starred in the shows Dress My Nest and Tacky House]. Any television ideas in the works?
Filicia : It was time to focus on the core business for a while, and it was really great for the company and for me to do that. Now, we are looking at options, and it's exciting. We are working on several projects and have been meeting in LA with networks.
R•Home: What are your favorite go-to publications or social media sites, which may or may not have anything to do with interior design?
Filicia : We love Pinterest. It's a fun, really cool tool. It feels to me the one that's the most understandable and that clients use.
R•Home: In your latest book, American Beauty: Renovating and Decorating a Beloved Retreat, you talk about the language of the house. Can you explain that a little bit more?
Filicia : The language of the home should speak to the person who lives there. It should tell the narrative of the person who lives there. It's your personality, your personal journal and your personal language. You can go to 10 different stores, buy pieces and put them together so they make sense to you … you are creating your own language. Some homes speak to comfort and coziness, others speak to glamour and sophistication but while still mixing in family and sports. Layering all those things that are your interests, it's what separates your home from your friend's. It's your home's language.
R•Home: Give me an example or two where you have homed in on an aspect of a person's personality and translated it into a design element?
Filicia : I like pieces that evoke mood and sensibility. For a family who liked to ski, we've done things like art with snowy mountains … just a little bit of that sensibility. Sometimes it's a little more quiet, or sometimes it's louder, like mounting vintage surfboards in a family room.
R•Home: It seems that DIY and thrifting has taken a firm hold in the design arena. What should folks think about investing in?
Filicia: I always tell people to invest in anchor pieces. Start with a really great sofa, and artwork is a really good place to invest, too. Get a great bed, but bedside tables can be Lucite cubes. Invest in a great dining room table, but you can put plastic chairs around it. The biggest problem is pulling the trigger on the first piece. As a designer, it's about helping [clients] find the piece that gets them excited and gives them confidence.
IFDA DAY OF DESIGN WITH THOM FILICIA
Where: Dover Hall in Manakin-Sabot
When: Sat., March 29, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
For tickets, visit ifdadayofdesign.com .
IFDA members, $95, general admission, $125, and students, $65.
Admission includes lunch, talk and tour of property.